Posts

Agri-Tech hackathon inspires solutions for tackling impact of COVID-19

Concepts for a solar powered, zero emission orchard robot and a remote, digital veterinary diagnosis tools which requires no apps or software installation have been announced as the winners of the Agri-EPI Centre agri-tech hackathon. A total of 11 teams took part on the hackathon, which was held to support the development of technological solutions to problems posed by COVID-19. The winning teams receive a year of product launch support from experts at Agri-EPI Centre.

Hackathon team winners

The Hackathon focused on the horticulture and livestock/veterinary sectors:

Horticulture hackathon

The winning team in the horticulture sector is Orcharbot with their concept for a solar powered, zero-emission crop scouting and weeding robot featuring six technology innovations for weed identification and organic removal, fruit surveying and picking. The team members came from University of the West of England, Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Antobot.

Judging this section of the hackathon were Rob Wilkinson of Grimme; Ali Capper of the NFU; David Telford of Knowledge Transfer Network and Adam Spate of Bardsley England. They were highly impressed with the ambitious, zero emissions concept.

Veterinary hackathon

The winner of the veterinary hackathon is a team from technology provider FarmVet Systems. Their concept – ‘VetAccess’ – builds on their existing VetIMPRESS secure data management platform. Their idea focuses on enabling farm teams to benefit fully from the technology in the face of challenges created by vets working remotely due to Covid restrictions.

The judges in this category were Jan Van Dijke of Zoetis; Tim Potter of WestPoint Farm Vets (VetPartners); George Paterson of Landmark Systems; and Lucy Mather of the Knowledge Transfer Network. They particularly liked the farmer-focused vision behind the concept.

Agri-EPI’s Business Development Director, Lisa Williams, said:

“The level of interest and enthusiasm from all the entrants to our hackathon exceeded all of our expectations and we thank all the competitors and the judges for taking part. The Agri-EPI team is very excited about the coming year, as we work with both winning teams to support the feasibility testing and development of their concepts.

“There were many other strong ideas put forward during the hackathon which show great promise, so we have decided to work with all teams to provide support as they build on their ideas.”

Partners

We thank our challenge partners for their support: Vet Partners, ZoetisKnowledge Transfer Network, Landmark Systems, Bardsley England, Grimme, NFU and Knowledge Transfer Network. 

 


This Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, through an Open Call issued and executed under the project SmartAgriHubs (Grant Agreement No. 818 182)

This Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, through an Open Call issued and executed under the project SmartAgriHubs (Grant Agreement No. 818 182)

Agri-tech hackathon seeks solutions to COVID’s impact on farming

Registration now open for an agri-tech Hackathon aimed at developing technological solutions to problems posed by COVID-19

Winners will receive a year of product launch support from experts at Agri-EPI Centre. 

The Hackathon will focus on the horticulture and livestock/veterinary sectors. Participating teams will be challenged to explore solutions in two areas: the shortage of labour supply for field operations in horticultureand the restrictions on how vets can travel to conduct farm diagnoses and prescription.  

They will have the 12-hour duration of the Hackathon, on 23 and 24 September 2020, to come up with proposed technical solutions within their chosen stream which, if deemed by the judges to have winning market potential, will become the focus of the year-long ‘product launch programme’ delivered by Agri-EPI. 

Agri-EPI’s Business Development Director Lisa Williams explained:

“We invite any businesses, organisations and academic institutions with an involvement or interest in agri-tech to take part in what promises to be a really exciting event, with the aim of delivering new products that address some of the serious impacts of Coronavirus on the farming industry. Collaboration is key to innovation and we look forward to working with the participating teams, and the winners, to develop new ideas. 

“The winning teams will have 12 months of access to Agri-EPI’s technical and project management expertise, our world-class research and innovation facilities, testbeds and research assets, and our extensive network, which includes a membership of more than 120 companies across agriculture, technology and the supply chain. 

The Hackathon is supported by the European Horizon 2020 project Smart AgriHubs. The Challenge partners for the veterinary Hackathon are Vet Partners, ZoetisKnowledge Transfer Network and Landmark Systems. For the horticulture Hackathon, the challenge partners are Bardsley, Grimme, NFU and Knowledge Transfer Network. 

To find out more and register, visit the following website.

Hackathon launch webinar

If you’re a business or academic institution with an interest in agri-tech, join us today (18 August) at 2:00pm to hear more from Agri-EPI Centre’s CEO, Dave Ross, as he goes into more detail about the Hackathon and challenges faced by many in the horticulture and livestock/veterinary sectors. Register now at register.gotowebinar.com/register to secure your space!

Things to consider – recruitment in Agritech

Sam Clayton, Managing Director and Recruiter at AgRecruit shares his views on recruitment in agritech

Running an AgriTech specific recruitment business means that I spend my time working with companies in the AgriFood domain when it comes to recruiting for roles that are non-traditional for the sector. This sees me working on roles in Software Engineering, AI & Robotics, Data and various Engineering disciplines, as well as commercially oriented roles focused on a tech service.

For start-ups, or perhaps more established entities delving into the tech market for the first time, recruitment can mean stepping outside of the Agri world and into a wild-west where you’ll be fighting tooth and nail for the in-demand talent you need, against companies across the likes of Banking, Retail, Energy, Healthcare and any other sector you can think of.

This post focuses on elements that need consideration before you even dip your toe into the water and start engaging with candidates. Some may seem obvious, but hopefully there’ll be one or two you hadn’t thought of which will help you on your way…

Does what you’re looking for exist?

You may have 3-4 business needs that require addressing, varying from Sales through to Software Development – but, if you’re expecting one miracle worker to solve all of these, you might have to think again. With the odd exception, generally people will specialise in one discipline; so you need to decide which of these is the most pressing, or work out if you can recruit for more than one post.

How challenging is the role to fill?

You’ve decided that your requirements are feasible and it’s all systems go. Will it be straightforward though? Software Engineers and Data Scientists, for example, are established role types – but are still notoriously hard to find and attract. Are you looking for a skillset that is abundantly available, or is this a highly specialist role that could prove challenging?

Can you make life easier for yourself?

If, based on the above point, you’ve deduced that this could be challenging, can you take measures to open up the pool of viable candidates? Some flexibility on aspects such as remote working or the role requirements (could elements be learned on the job?) can significantly facilitate your journey.

In agritech recruitment, what do you have to offer?

What is standout or unique about you and your proposition that will be enough to not only convince somebody that the upheaval of changing jobs is worthwhile, but also that you should be their first choice versus the other parties vying for their attention? How are you making your ‘USPs’ (Unique Selling Points) apparent to candidates?

Do you have an interview & selection plan?

What type of interview(s) do you want to carry out and across how many stages? Are all decision makers agreed on what is needed and reading from the same hymn-sheet? Will your process give people a chance? Of course, the barrier for entry can’t be set too low… but, on the other hand, a process that is overly arduous or drawn out may result in great candidates being ruled out for minor imperfections or becoming disengaged.

Do you have the time?

You doubtless have other tasks and responsibilities that require attention; do you have the time to make this a priority right now? Can you review CVs in good time? Do you have time to vet candidates on the basics (e.g. salary expectations, are they serious about looking or just ‘window shopping’, etc) before committing to interview? Are you and all other decisions makers available to move through the interview process at sufficient rapidity?

Will you need help?

If you’ve exhausted your own network and your job ad isn’t yielding results, you may need to enlist help and look at going down the Recruitment Agency route. It will need to be a sufficiently attractive proposition for an agency to invest time & resources into. Surprisingly to many, the fee % you’re willing to pay is not the most important thing here; experienced Recruiters are more likely to prioritise the prospect of a healthy working relationship and partnership. To aid this, consider whether you’d be happy to work with one agency exclusively, or will there likely be further assignments to come should they deliver for you?

All the above points could lead to a blog post on their own, but hopefully this is enough to help make your life easier and start to maximise your chances of success. We are passionate about building further relationships in the AgriTech space and lending a helping hand where possible to growing companies in this domain, so will always be happy to provide advice and guidance for free on the topics mentioned here. Happy hunting!

Contact Sam Clayton at AgRecruit for help on anything covered in this post, or any other recruitment related enquiries:
(+44) 01908 035950
sam.clayton@agrecruit-ltd.com

Farmers to help identify key agri-tech areas in Scotland

With a survey focused on key agri-tech areas of Scotland, as part of a wider project funded by Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI), beef and sheep farmers, consultants, vets and researchers are being asked for their views on the use of modern technology. Information collected in a new survey will be used to identify key areas for the use of agri-tech to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability in both beef and sheep production systems in Scotland.

Survey agri-tech Scotland

We invite farmers and food producers to fill out the agri-tech survey. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete and can be completed anonymously. This survey can also be completed by respondents outside Scotland and closes on 31st of August.

 

SRUC’s Jenna Bowen, who is leading the study, said:

“The potential benefits of using agri-tech in the beef and sheep sector are far reaching. This survey will help us to understand industry views and experiences with existing systems from participants who use these systems on a regular basis, and help identify where research should be prioritised.”

Project partners

The project team includes Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), The Moredun Research Institute and Agri-EPI Centre.

Agri-EPI Logo Primary Square

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

New Agri-Tech Enabler campaign demonstrates innovations

As agriculture faces its greatest ever demands, data-driven technology is crucial to sustainable and profitable food production

The changing global economic environment is going to mean that farmers must change their approach to how they manage their business. By the year 2050, the world population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion, two thirds of the global population will live in urban areas. To meet increasing demand, the annual world agricultural production would need to increase by 60%. Technology has an important, if not vital, role to play in the transformation of the UK’s farming industry.

Together with the UK government and as one of UK’s four Agri-Tech Centres of Agricultural Innovation, Agri-EPI Centre works on facilitating the creation of profitable and sustainable agri-tech businesses.

Agri-Tech Enabler

In the next couple of months, as part of the ‘Agri-Tech Enabler’ campaign together with our wide partnership network, Agri-EPI Centre will demonstrate the practical and commercial benefits of farm technology innovation, applied across all major commodities. We invite technology companies to bring forward new ideas that have the potential to directly, or indirectly, impact UK Farming and result in sustainable food production. Be sure to look out for #agritechenabler related news on social media in the weeks to come! For more information about the Agri-Tech Enabler campaign, please visit our campaign website.

As the leading agri-tech enabler, Agri-EPI Centre supports all kinds of businesses to help maximise their innovative ideas. Unlocking the potential of agritech innovation, if you would like to discuss opportunities for your business, big or small, or have something to contribute, please contact team@agri-epicentre.com. We will be delighted to talk to you.

Agri-EPI Centre DairyTech webinars July 2020

DairyTech webinars

One of the sectors currently being challenged, where innovative technologies are key to improve efficiency, sustainability and resilience is dairy farming. We would like to invite you to a series of webinars where we highlight the use of novel technologies and management systems designed to improve dairy herd health, wellbeing and sustainably increase milk yields. Read more about the different webinars held in July and how to register:

The webinars give an insight into a range of projects rolled out on our various UK dairy facilities, which are operated in conjunction with our partners Kingshay, SRUC and Harper Adams University and our Satellite Farm Network.

UK-China SmartFarm partnership takes next steps

Utilising UK technology in China

Agri-EPI Centre and one of China’s largest food companies, the Tianjin Food Group, have today signed a collaboration agreement to develop a smart farming project utilising UK technology in China to boost early disease detection and productivity monitoring in pigs.

The project, called “SmartFarm 1.5”, will involve Agri-EPI and UK companies RoboScientific, Greengage Lighting and Innovent Technology, working with pork producers for the Tianjin Food Group in north eastern China. It is being funded by Innovate UK from the UK and supported locally by the Tianjin Food Group.

China SmartFarm partners

China SmartFarm concept

The new project is a continuation of the SmartFarm concept developed in China by Agri-EPI Centre, which seeks to develop international collaboration to support efficient and sustainable approaches to farming and food production.

The first SmartFarm project looked at precision-based approaches to nitrogen application in wheat production. It ran successfully between 2018 and 19, co-sponsored by Innovate UK, led by Agri-EPI and involving UK companies SoilEssentials and RDS, with autonomous and measurement systems contribution from University of Strathclyde. The Chinese partner organisations were NERCITA, the National Engineering Research Centre for Information Technology in Agriculture and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technologies China Rural Technology Development Centre (CRTDC).

Following the successful delivery of this inaugural project, Agri-EPI and the Tianjin Food Group agreed to explore further opportunities, resulting in today’s signing of an agreement at the 4th Tianjin World Intelligence Congress.

Agri-EPI Centre Chief Executive Dave Ross said:

“We are honoured to be taking China SmartFarm to the next level by working with the Tianjin Food Group to deliver this important project. China is the world’s

largest producer and consumer of pork and technology and to support better productivity and earlier disease detection has significant potential economic benefits. Agri-EPI is excited to be building relationships with a range of international partners, in China – as well as New Zealand and Paraguay – in delivering SmartFarm projects.”

Committee Secretary and Chairman of Tiajin Food Group Zhang Yong said:

“Agri-EPI Centre is an important part of UK Research and Innovation. It has the world’s leading level in precision agriculture, the application of engineering technology in the entire agricultural industry chain, and the application of agricultural robots. With the continuous development of 5G, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and other intelligent technologies, agriculture has entered the era of intelligence. Precision feeding, precise management, real-time disease monitoring, and automatic environmental adjustment are all improving the level of agricultural production. At this critical historical opportunity, we hope to co-operate sincerely with the British side, make full use of their respective advantages, jointly develop and demonstrate the promotion of smart agricultural technology, and contribute to the progress of global agricultural technology.”

Alasdair Hamilton, Head of the Science and Innovation Team at the British Embassy, Beijing said:

“Partnerships in agricultural technologies that support sustainable, environmentally friendly farming is a priority area for science and innovation cooperation between the UK and China. The production of sustainable food with a low carbon footprint is a global necessity. It is therefore a pleasure to see that the MOU between Agri-EPI and the Tianjin Food Company will deepen cooperation in data driven technologies that will improve how we farm and produce nutritious food.”

Ian Cox, Innovate UK’s Agri-Tech Centres Innovation Lead said:

“I am delighted that this SmartFarm 1.5 collaboration agreement has been signed today. It marks the next step for both countries working together under our prestigious Flagship Challenge to address the global challenges facing the agriculture and food sectors. This follows on from SmartFarm 1.0 an initiative that formed a key output of the UK China Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy’s Agri-Tech Flagship Challenge, and which was a direct result of an earlier MoU signed between CRTDC and Innovate UK in November 2016.”

The new SmartFarm 1.5 project builds on a long history of UK-China co-operation in agricultural research and innovation. The relationship was enhanced in 2017 with the signing of the UK-China Science Technology and Innovation Strategy. SmartFarm is a core part of one of the strategy’s major deliverables, the Agri-Tech Flagship Challenge.

Food security and increasing farmers’ income remain a primary importance in China’s agriculture and rural policies. Technology plays a key role in the government’s plan to achieve this, with more investment being directed at deploying large agri-tech research programmes and innovation systems.

China’s approach to agricultural innovation overlaps many of the UK’s priorities including those set out in the Industrial Strategy.

On June 30, join Agri-EPI Centre, in partnership with 8 Hours Ahead, for a webinar exploring agri-tech opportunities in China. For more and to register, visit: www.agri-epicentre.com/land-and-grow-the-agri-tech-china-opportunity.

For further information, please contact Jane Smernicki, Agri-EPI Centre Communications Manager on 0131 239 7030, 07985 691 765 or jane.smernicki@agri-epcentre.com.

Events

A3 Scotland Conference 2021

A3 Scotland Conference 2021 – Animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture

Taking place in Edinburgh, Scotland from 21 and 22 April 2021 (dependant on the easing of lockdown restrictions), the A3 Scotland Conference 2021 event’s theme is “transition to net zero”.

With innovation, investment and collaboration in animal health, agri-tech and aquaculture a focal point, delegates from industry, investors and policymakers, all looking to discuss strategic partnerships and discover the latest R&D, will be brought together.

Delegates will hear from guest speakers – including Agri-EPI’s CEO, Dave Ross – from across the sectors, who will share their expert advice and will have multiple opportunities to network with others who work in, are involved with or are interested in these key areas.  Additionally, there will be optional pre-and post-conference tours showcasing some of Scotland’s world class A3 facilities and expertise. 

 

A3 Sponsors

Food security – UK priorities, supporting domestic production and driving innovation

Agri-EPI’s CTO to present

Dr Shamal Mohammed, Agri-EPI’s CTO will be delivering a presentation on technological developments and innovation in agri-food in improving productivity at this year’s Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum Policy Conference: Food security – UK priorities, supporting domestic production and driving innovation on Monday 30th November 2020.

The Conference, which will be held online, will examine key issues for food security and UK supply chain.

Other keynote presenters include Minette Batters, President, NFU; Anna Taylor, Executive Director, The Food Foundation and Chief Independent Adviser, National Food Strategy; Jack Ward, Chief Executive, British Growers Association; and more.

Agenda

8.30: Registration
9.00: Chair’s opening remarks – Senior Parliamentarian
9.05: Food Security – the global context and the impact of the pandemic. Senior speaker to be announced
9.20: Key issues for food security and UK supply chain – developing an Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme that supports domestic food production, maintains standards and aids sector recovery from the pandemic Minette Batters, President, NFU
9.35: Questions and comments from the floor
9.55: Break
10.00: Stakeholder perspectives on UK food security – the impact of Brexit, meeting environmental targets, and developing funding and regulatory mechanisms to support production

  • Anna Taylor, Executive Director, The Food Foundation and Chief Independent Adviser, National Food Strategy
  • Jack Ward, Chief Executive, British Growers Association
  • Vicki Hird, Sustainable Farming Campaign Coordinator, Sustain
  • Neil Shand, Interim Chief Executive, National Beef Association
  • Sarah Blanford, Organic, Crop, and Data Manager, Sainsbury’s

Questions and comments from the floor
11.15:  Chair’s closing remarks -Senior Parliamentarian
11.20: Break
11.30: Chair’s opening remarks – Senior Parliamentarian
11.35: Improving land use, supply chain efficiency and the road to net zero – Senior representative, sustainability
11.40: The effect of moves towards sustainable diets on UK food security and climate targets – managing the transition, adapting to consumer trends and opportunities for novel foods – Christian Reynolds, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London; Senior representative, food industry
12.00: The role of developments in agri-food and crop science in improving productivity – innovation, regulation and supporting sector growth – Dr Shamal Mohammed, Chief Technical Officer, Agri-EPI Centre; Senior representative, crop science
12.20: The impact of future trade negotiations – food standards, access to markets and meeting global commitments
12.30: Senior commentator
Questions and comments from the floor
12.55: Chair’s and Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum closing remarks -Senior Parliamentarian, Michael Ryan, Deputy Editor, Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

Register now: www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk/conference

Tesco Agri T-Jam 2020

Opportunities for agri-tech start-ups

Tesco T-Jam, in partnership with the World Agri-Tech, is calling for agri-tech start-ups to apply for the opportunity to work with Tesco, the UK’s leading food retailer, and its supply chain partners.

For a chance to win the competition, entrants must have an innovation or solution that will benefit and improve the UK’s supply chain efficiency and sustainability, and that address one one or more of the following priority areas:

  • predictive farming
  • crop specific solutions, shelf life and storage
  • improving soil health and resilience
  • water quality analysis and irrigation
  • robotics, automation and sensor technology
  • protecting and supporting biodiversity
  • livestock: animal health and Welfare
  • supply chain efficiency and waste reduction
  • indoor and vertical farming
  • operating remotely.

The competition will close on Wednesday 28th July. Following a selection process, the final ten selected finalists will be invited as guests to the 2020 Tesco Agri T-Jam Final, which will be held online on Monday 19th October, to present – via webinar – their innovations or solutions to a panel of Tesco colleagues and supply chain partners. The winner will be announced following another presentation in a showcase webinar promoted to the World Agri-Tech global network.

For more information and to apply, visit: www.worldagritechinnovation.com/tesco-agri-t-jam-2020.

Last year’s impression video

Annual Conference 2020 Agri-tech | Connecting Farmers with Technology

Agri-EPI Centre is delighted invite you to attend our Annual Conference 2020 on 6 October 2020. This virtual conference will provide valuable insight into the future direction of food production through a series of live panel discussions as agri-tech is discussed candidly in the context of policy, investment, on-farm uptake, processor and retailer perspectives and much more. The conference is a must-attend for all collaborators across the agri-food supply chain and it will provide valuable sector awareness around agri-tech’s role in a post COVID and Brexit world.

Tom Bradshaw, NFU Vice-PresidentThe theme of the event is underpinned by connecting agri-tech to farms. Our keynote speaker is from ‘The Voice of British Farming’, NFU Vice-President Tom Bradshaw.

In addition, we will also disseminate project information on automation and 3D Imaging & visualisation. Speakers also include: NFU Chief Policy Adviser, Dr Andrew Francis, Industry Expert Phil Wilkinson, Professor Andrew Fearne of Value Chain Management, Sophie Alexander of Hemsworth Farms, Agri-EPI’s Senior Investment Adviser John Grealish plus many more.

The day will run in a series of virtual panel discussions between 9am and 3pm:

  • Session 1 | 9am – 9.45am – Welcome & Keynote Address
  • Session 2 | 9.45am -10.30am – Drivers and Barriers to the Uptake of Technology on farms
  • Session 3 | 10.45am – 11.30am – Future Direction of Agricultural Policy & Investment
  • Session 4 | 11.30am – 12.15pm – Agri-tech’s Role in the Agri-food Supply Chain, Retailer, Processor and Consumer Perspective

[Lunch break]

  • Session 5 | 1pm – 2pm – The Future of Farming: Automation & 3D Imagery
  • Session 6 | 2pm – 3pm – Hackathon Winners presentation on technological solutions in response to COVID19

Our Annual Conference 2020 is supported by

 
Logo Landmark Systems
Logo Lloyds Bank